2022 NHL Draft Lottery; College coaching hires; Illinois' D1 failure; U.S. Men's World's roster
Plus news and notes from around the hockey world
Hello Subscribers! Apologies for the gap between newsletters these last few weeks, but I will be making it up to you with two offerings this week including today’s straight newsletter and, later this week, notes on dozens of prospects from my travels to the Men’s World Under-18 Championship, including some context about the rest of their draft seasons. If you’re a big-time draft nerd, I hope that helps scratch the itch for new info.
More immediately, however, the NHL Draft Lottery will take place Tuesday night. We’ll find out which team is going to get the No. 1 overall pick. Frank Seravalli wrote today on DailyFaceoff.com about how there’s actually better odds for the last-place team to achieve the No. 1 pick since the NHL now limits the number of teams that can leap into the top three. Additionally, the Montreal Canadiens — who own the league’s worst record — can’t slip any further than No. 3 overall.
And in all the years since I’ve been doing this, I think this might be one of the weirdest years to own the top pick. We’ve got what appears to be a consensus No. 1 prospect and yet it’s not like recent years where the No. 1 or top two looks like a no-doubter. Speaking with scouts in Germany, including some with teams in position to benefit from the lottery, there wasn’t that desperation to own the top pick. Most would love to be in the top four, but that top spot provides a tricky situation.
Shane Wright may be the consensus No. 1 prospect in the public sphere and that’s probably true of most teams’ boards as well, but it’s hard to find someone who views him as a franchise-changing prospect. That’s what you hope you get when drafting first. The problem with this year’s draft class as a whole is that so few players have taken charge and played their way into consideration to unseat Wright. There very well could be a franchise-changing prospect or two in this class, but it’s not as evident based on the information we have today. This is one of those years where you’d probably rather have the No. 2 pick and let the top team make the decision for you. There’s next to no public pressure at No. 2 compared to what exists at No. 1.
As I think of this year’s class, I think back to the draft when the public debate was Nico Hischier vs. Nolan Patrick. That was the one year I was out of hockey writing, so I don’t have my own rankings or in-depth evals to look back on. But as the hockey world focused on those two, late in the process, it was becoming a little clearer that not every team was sold on those two being the top guys. Cale Makar got some very, very late first overall buzz and some even viewed Miro Heiskanen as a contender for that race as well. In the end, Hischier went first, Patrick went next and now you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that wouldn’t want either Makar or Heiskanen, who went fourth and third, respectively, instead.
Winning the lottery takes a lot of luck, but the year you win the lottery is a lot more important. This year is one where any of the teams with the best odds can feel comfortable whether they’re picking first or fourth. There’s enough talent there to get an impact prospect, but you probably aren’t getting a guy that you’re running to the podium to select as in some years past.
Anecdotally, I had also felt that there was not a ton of buzz for this draft lottery, which is especially interesting to me considering the Montreal Canadiens have the best odds at landing the first overall pick. I think a lot of it has to do with the belief that this year’s draft is weaker relative to some of the recent drafts we’ve had. That’s certainly true at the very top of it.
So I posed a question to my Twitter followers to see if I could get a sense of how fans feel about the draft lottery. I’ve had more than 700 respondents to this poll I posted Tuesday morning:
I attached a poll, which you can click on the Tweet to see the updated results for. The options were: Shane Wright or Bust, let someone else pick first, a top-four pick is fine, or I don’t care.
About a third of the respondents want Shane Wright, but 45.5% of respondents felt like they’d be happy if it was just something in the top four, while 14.5% would prefer to let another team go first and see what’s left after. Meanwhile 10% didn’t care.
I fall in the camp that would be fine to let someone else go first. The hope is that you still have a top pick, but there’s so much pressure on that No. 1 overall pick and this is a year where it feels less likely that the first overall is going to be that franchise-changing player. However, the gap between No. 1 and No. 4 seems slim enough where you’re still landing a top prospect that positively impacts your organization. You can still get a ton of value and very well could end up picking the best player in the draft within the top four picks. The likelihood decreases after that, but this is a year where I think there’s so much left to figure out about the draft class that anything is possible. I feel like I know this class well, but I’m less confident about the class as a whole in terms of the impact it is going to make.
So, best of luck tonight, I guess? Here are the odds:
As for 2023, start tanking now.
USA Roster for Men’s World Championship
USA Hockey announced its roster for the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship roster. Aside from Seth Jones and Nate Schmidt, there are not a ton of players with significant NHL experience on the roster. Jones and Schmidt are the two biggest names on the team, but there’s a lot of young players that should provide enough of a reason to watch.
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